Hasan Minhaj, of Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show,” ended the White House Correspondents’ Dinner Saturday night by blasting President Trump in a night that mostly focused on the First Amendment.
"We've got to address the elephant that's not in the room," Minhaj said. "The leader of our country is not here. And that's because he lives in Moscow. It's a very long flight. As for the other guy, I think he's in Pennsylvania because he can't take a joke."
Trump’s tweeting habits and his administration were not off limits in Minhaj’s final speech of the night.
“Jeff Sessions couldn’t be here tonight” Minhaj said. “He was busy doing a pre-Civil War re-enactment.”
Minhaj took a turn at lecturing journalists who were seated for the dinner and told them that “Donald Trump doesn’t care about free speech.”
"We're living in this strange time where trust is more important than truth,” Minhaj said.
He said later “in the age of Trump, I know that you guys have to be more perfect now than ever. Because you are how he gets his news.”
Aside from Minhaj’s jokes, speakers, including reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, promoted freedom and responsibility and challenged Trump’s accusations of dishonest reporting.
"Like politicians and presidents sometimes, perhaps too frequently, we make mistakes and go too far," Woodward said. "When that happens we should own up to it. But the effort today to get this best obtainable version of the truth is largely made in good faith. Mr. President, the media is not 'fake news.'"
Trump became the first president since Ronald Reagan in 1981 to skip the event.
Instead, the president held a rally in Harrisburg, Pa. to celebrate his first 100 days in office. Trump told rally-goers that he was happy he was not in Washington.
"A large group of Hollywood actors and Washington media are consoling each other in a hotel ballroom in our nation's capital right now," Trump said. He added: "And I could not possibly be more thrilled than to be more than 100 miles away from Washington's swamp, spending my evening with all of you and with a much, much larger crowd and much better people, right?"
The Associated Press contributed to this report.